Listen up, y'all: If you do the straight-ticket thing and call it a day, you are depriving yourself of a vote. Don't do it. Don't let your friends and family do it either.
Some voters take all the literature handed them, some take none, and some take only a few flyers. I used to be one of those voters who went to the polling place, mind all made up, in a hurry, giving all the card-pushers a gracious "no thanks."
Among the "no thanks" crowd, I have noticed a large number of voters who seem to emerge from the building distressingly soon after they enter. It's not just because the lines are relatively short, even with record numbers voting early in Texas this year. It's distressing only because it most likely means that they voted a straight party ticket and considered the job finished.
Kayleen also can report from her volunteering for Protect the Vote that, at the Palm Center location, self-designated voting assistants have been encouraging people to "just vote straight Democrat." (Yep, just like what I saw Sheila Jackson Lee's crew do outside the Palm Center polling station in 2012, even while high school students near them were distributing flyers encouraging a Yes vote on a $2 billion school bond package.) She spoke with one crestfallen voter who needed help with the machine and actually expressed interest in voting on Houston ISD's Proposition 1, but who then lost the chance to cast that vote after selecting "Straight Democrat" and pressing CAST VOTE as the assistant advised.
By the way, HISD residents: If you haven't voted yet, please educate yourselves on the Proposition and its ramifications. The wording of the ballot language is intentionally vague bordering on deceptive. It's hard to believe that such wording is not just legal in Texas, but common practice.
Not everyone in Harris County has ballot propositions. Not everyone in Harris County has non-partisan school board races in which they can vote this year. But about half a million of us do. About a week from now, I imagine that we'll see large undervote tallies for those decisions; a portion of the undervote will be from voters who couldn't decide, or who just decided not to care, but a significant fraction will be straight-ticket folks.
In other jurisdictions around the US, voters are answering some pretty important questions. Legalizing medical or recreational cannabis has no party label, for instance. As we've mentioned previously, the state of Maine is pondering becoming the first state to switch to Ranked Choice Voting for state and local races, as well as increasing the minimum wage there to $12 by 2020. California is asking voters whether they support overturning the 2010 Citizens United decision. Fun times.